Tate artist placed under house arrest

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The Independent Culture

Chinese avant-garde artist Ai Weiwei, whose Sunflower Seeds is currently exhibiting in London's Tate Modern, said he was placed under house arrest to prevent him from attending a party commemorating the demolition of his newly built studio in Shanghai.

Ai, who has become known as much for his social activism as his art in recent years, was planning on flying to Shanghai for tomorrow's celebration, but police yesterday told him he would not be permitted to leave his Beijing home.

Speaking by telephone today, Ai said the officers had refused to identify themselves and it was not clear who gave the order to detain him.

Ai had been courted by the communist government as a cultural ambassador before his advocacy on behalf of social activists apparently made him a target of internal security.

Sunflower Seeds, an art installation in the Tate's huge Turbine Hall, is made up of a 100 million porcelain scultpures of seeds, each one individually sculpted and painted in China.